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The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator

An aggregate of many different woodworking blog feeds from across the 'net all in one place!  These are my favorite blogs that I read everyday...


A Real Frankenplane

The Furniture Record - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 9:25pm

As an accidental/incidental/occidental tool collector, I am always amused to read or hear a serious tool collector trash talking a Frakenplane. Their definition of a Frankenplane is a Type 5 plane with a Type 6 knob, shorter one without the bead. Or a type 16 lever cap on a Type 14 plane. Let me show you a real Frankenplane.

Behold the Frankenplane:

It's alive!

It’s alive!

Another view.

Another view.

Viewing the beast head-on.

Viewing the beast head-on.

I’m not sure what it was or how it became what it is, but it does exist and we must accept that.

We traveled to Baltimore to visit friends for Labor Day. On Sunday, my wife visited one of her best friends in Philadelphia. To give them some time to catch up and bond, I volunteered to go explore my old stomping grounds in and around Adamstown, PA. For those not in the know, this is an area self-billed as Antiques Capital, USA. There you will find about 5 miles of antiques dealers and flea markets (the good kind). Mid level and primitives, not much in the real high end and fancy. Still, a reasonable mix. Always interesting.

I found this plane at a shop that is usually loaded with primitives. And the Frankenplane is interesting in the clinical sense of the word. It is still there for only $30. If anyone really wants it, I will send you the location if you can provide a reasonable explanation for wanting it.

Did I buy anything for myself? Against my better judgement, I picked up the carcass of an early Stanley 45 combination plane. I believe it is a Type 3 or 4, 1888 to 1892. I paid $20. It’s my plane, I think I’ll keep. Until I get a better offer.

It may be old, but it's still pretty.

It may be old, but it’s still pretty.

Building Two Saws: Part 3

The Literary Workshop Blog - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 9:05pm

Although I usually feel like a competent woodworker, any time I am faced with metal work I feel like I’ve gone back to kindergarten.  This project has, however, forced me to get a little more comfortable with metal working.

But first, one important photo I forgot to share last time around:

Two Saw Handles 8-2014 - - 10

Work holding isn’t always easy when working with an irregularly-shaped piece.  That’s where a handscrew held upright in a bench vise gets really, really handy.  I place a spacer block behind one of the jaws so that the bench vise clamps only one jaw, leaving the other free to move.  That way, I can easily reposition the workpiece with a turn of the lower screw.

Once the saw handles were shaped and sanded, it was time for a little metal work.  Both saw plates needed trimming to fit the handles.  The panel saw also had at least two separate sets of handle holes drilled in it, so I opted to cut that whole section off the back, shortening the saw by maybe an inch and a half.  I marked my lines with a black marker, taped the saw plate to a backer board, and cut it off with a hacksaw.

Two Saw Handles 8-2014 - - 11

In retrospect, I should have just used the tape itself as the layout line, but oh well.

The dovetail saw plate also needed one corner clipped to fit into the handle slot.  I filed both cuts smooth.  Then I shaped the brass spine with a file and sandpaper.  (Not wanting to get metal filings all over my camera, I opted not to take any pictures of that process.)  The work went quickly, as brass is quite soft and easy to work.  The drawback is that the brass is also easy to mar with an errant stroke of the file.  After sanding the spine, I took it down to my buffing machine and put a nice shine on it.  I went back and forth between the sandpaper and the buffer several times before I was satisfied with the surface finish on the spine.

The next challenge was drilling the holes for the bolts and nuts in the saw handles.  This presents a challenge, as the holes must be lined up perfectly.  It’s easy to drill a hole through one side and then counter-sink it for the head of the bolt.  But how does one counter-sink the other side?  Normally, one would do this with a special drill bit called a piloted countersink.  But since I had only five holes (three of one size and two of another), I didn’t want to buy a special bit.  There is a way to do this with regular drill bits, and while it’s time-consuming, it works just fine.

Two Saw Handles 8-2014 - - 12

First, clamp down the workpiece on the drill press table and drill the narrow hole all the way through.  Then, without moving the workpiece, counter-sink the bigger hole to the necessary depth.  My drill press has a decent depth-stop, so getting a consistent depth was pretty easy.  The smaller hole should be perfectly centered in the larger hole.

Now turn the workpiece over, put your smaller bit back into the chuck, and (without turning the drill press on), insert the drill bit into the original hole.  Turn it backwards a few times to be sure the workpiece is in the right place.  Clamp down the workpiece; it is now perfectly centered on that hole.  Back out the small bit, put in the larger bit, and counter-bore it from this side.

Two Saw Handles 8-2014 - - 13

It’s a lot of changing bits in and out, but the results are precise enough for my purposes here.

I then drilled holes in the saw plates for the bolts.

Two Saw Handles 8-2014 - - 14

For the dovetail saw, I considered squeezing the slot in the spine so as to hold the saw plate by friction alone–which is the traditional way of constructing a backsaw.  In my imagination, it seemed like the right thing to do.  But when I started to try to close the slot, I found that the brass is pretty springy.  The more I thought about it, the more I saw that the likelihood of my ever wanting to remove this saw plate from the spine is about nil.  So, in a moment of weakness, I reached for the super glue.  A dab in each end of the slot, and the saw plate was solidly seated in the spine.  Sometimes chemistry wins out over mechanics.

So, at the end of the evening, I am almost finished.  I will need to trim the screws to final length, apply a finish to the handles, and sharpen the saws.

Tagged: backsaw, counter bore, countersink, dovetail saw, drill press, handscrew, spine

Bench Stool in one piece

orepass: Woodworking to Pass the Time - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 4:41pm

With all of the parts complete, I attached a couple of pieces for the screws and attached the seat.


Next the back support was attached with glue. I am still not sure of the size and shape of the back support but it is now attached.



Finally the seat is attached using screws.


Of course who could forget the little repair needed when I sent the chisel through the leg.


Categories: Hand Tools

To Restore or Not

Plane Shavings Blog - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 2:33pm
Stanley type 9 #4 smooth plane.

Stanley type 9 #4 smooth plane.

Recently I was reminded that there have been a lot of newcomers to woodworking and especially to hand  tools. My philosophy on tools is quite simple. Tools were made to be used. Before you get your feathers ruffled, I am not against tool collecting. It is just not for me. Tool collecting serves a useful purpose in that it preserves tools for the future. One of my main objectives for this blog is to show people how to preserve antique and vintage tools with the purpose of making them available for use to a new generation of woodworkers. And I emphasize USE.

The pic above shows my Stanley #4 smooth plane. This is the plane I use for all smoothing work in my woodshop. It was made in the very early 20th century. I completely restored this plane with no regard to its collector value. But I didn’t go into the restoration blind.

I am often asked “should I restore this tool?” That is a complex question with no simple answer. So here goes. It is my opinion that the owner of any item has the legal and moral right to do anything they choose to with said item. A person may feel that preserving a vintage or antique item in its original condition is a moral obligation, but it is not. If you choose to do this that is fine and dandy, but you are not obligated to do so. So if you choose to restore an antique tool that is nobody’s business but yours. Some antique tools can be worth hundreds even thousands of dollars. If you were to restore one of these tools its value would drop dramatically. Therefore, you would probably not want to restore such a valuable tool.

Before you decide whether or not to restore a tool do some research. There is a wealth of information online to help you determine the value of a tool. For Stanley planes you can start here. In general, with Stanley planes, the older, pre 1900, specimens are the most valuable. Once you have an idea of the value of your tool you can make an informed decision as to whether or not to restore it. The idea is to preserve a tool for another generations use. If you do that by a good cleanup, a complete restoration, or wash it and put it on a shelf with the rest of your collection matters not.

As always, thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a comment. Oh, I have a feeling I’m going to hear about this one :)

Categories: Hand Tools

SOLD Need a Knockdown Workbench?

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 1:20pm


In the coming week we’ll post the free SketchUp drawing for the knockdown Nicholson workbench I built earlier this month. But if you need an inexpensive and portable workbench, this one is for sale for $400, cash and carry. Sorry, sold.

I built the bench to prove the design concept, and also we needed a fourth workbench for my coffin-building event this weekend.

I didn’t expect the knockdown bench to be this good – I thought I’d have to tinker with it before I was happy. But this thing is solid and ready to go. No apologies.

The bench is made from Southern yellow pine and weighs about 250 pounds. The top is 22” x 72” and the benchtop is 33” from the floor. The entire bench can be assembled and disassembled with a 9/16” ratchet in less than 10 minutes.

If you are interested in the bench, let me know at chris@lostartpress.com. The first one to say “I’ll take it” and comes to pick it up gets it. Sorry, I cannot ship this bench.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Projects, Workbenches
Categories: Hand Tools

Emma International 2014; Part 5.

Bridge City Tools - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 12:08pm

Drivel Starved Nation;

This is the last installment before I share a few of the finished pieces. If looking at these pictures doesn’t inspire you to go make something, nothing will…


close up

labor of love

adding oxygen

adding texture

airbrush area

axe etch

axe head etched

bandsaw lamp

bandsaw shaping 1

Bandsaw shaping



chemistry in action



copper hat

figuring it out

fish head


green bug


Kimberly working

magic mushrooms


manipulating metal

Michael playing

more stuff


new instrument

painting area


prepping for enameling

powdered glass

copper enamel

power hammer



Shop made power supply

Table Top


Hand sculpture
The picture below is a northern spruce beetle. it is two inches long and when it bites, it takes out a dime sized chunk of skin. I woke up one morning and one of these was trapped in my tent. Good thing I don’t smell like a spruce tree…
spruce beetle

Emma All Stars 1
The CT-18 came in real handy while the varnish was drying on the Emma All Star Baseball. (This was turned by Michael Hosaluk, logo designed by Mark Siffrri, and yours truly burned in the stitching. It was signed by all that attended and you will see the finish piece later…
Emma All Stars 3

gilding 4

incredible work

These bits spin at 400,000 rpm.
tiny bits

Time for a break…
taking a break

Beginning at noon on Wednesday, we started cleaning up. Big party Wednesday evening where some of the work was auctioned off only to the artists. The really good stuff was put on a truck for the Thursday evening auction in Saskatoon. I had never been to Saskatoon before but after seeing this truck, I knew it was going to be great time…


Categories: Hand Tools

I snekkerverkstedet, måleri av Fredrik Kolstø, 1886

Høvelbenk - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 11:32am

I serien vår med bilete av gamle snikkarverkstader har vi tidlegare hatt med eit måleri av Gustav Wentzel frå 1881. Han er ikkje den einaste målaren som har interessert seg for arbeidslivet generelt og snikkarfaget spesielt. Også målaren Fredrik Kolstø (Haugesund 1860 – Trondheim 1945) har måla menneske i daglegliv og arbeid. Mellom målarstykka hans er biletet “I snekkerverkstedet” som han måla i 1886. Dette året var han også ute på utlandsreiser, men motivet er nok frå Noreg. Kolstø starta som 16-åring på Bergsliens malerskole i Kristiania. Hausten 1877 reiste han saman med Erik Werenskiold og Jacob Gløersen til München og ble tatt opp som elev ved kunstakademiet. Også Gløersen har måla snikkarverkstader og det skal vi kome tilbake til seinare. Kolstø malte bilete i realistisk og impresjonistisk stil, gjerne med motiv frå Vestlandet. Han var son av kjøpmann Østen Kolstø i Haugesund.

I snekkerverkstedet / In the carpenters workroom, 1886

“I snekerverkstedet”, måleri av Fredrik Kolstø, 1886. foto©: O. Væring Eftf. AS

Det er sparsamt med opplysningar om motivet. Det vi kan sjå er at Kolstø har klart å fange høvelspona mykje betre enn det vi kunne sjå i måleriet til Gustav Wentzel. Guten som sit på høvelbenken og et brødskiver kan vere ein lærling? Frå Danmark har eg kome over ei levande skildring av kvardagen for ein “læredreng” på 1890-talet, altså nokre få år seinare enn måleriet til Kolstø. Det er Jens Hendrik Berg som skriv om si læretid hos “snedkermester P. Jørgensen i Slotsgade i aarene 1895-99″ i Haderslev.

“Der blev kaldt på os om Morgenen af Mesterens Datter Kl. 5,15, og det skul nu gaa stærkt, en Stige blev stukket ned, efter at 2 Døre blev lukket op fra 1ste Sal, og ned i Gaarden, saa blev det stillet nogle Bænke op til Vandfade med Haandklæder og Sæbe, at Svendene kunde vaske sig, saa kom Mesterens Datter med en mægtig stor Bakke med Morgenmad og Kaffe (altsaa paa Værkstedet), som blev indtaget ved Høvlebænkene, det skulle jo gaa hurtigt, for naar det fløjtede paa Gasværket kl. 6, skulde alle Mand staa parat med Værktøjet i gang. Mesteren var der næsten altid samtidigt. Kl. 8 var der ½ Times Frokost med belagt Smørrebrød og Kaffe.” (En Læredrengs beretning, J. H. Berg, Aarhus, 1953.)

Med bakgrunn i skildringa frå Danmark kan vi tenkje oss at snikkaren får sin frukost eller morrabette (Morgenmad på dansk)? Sidan det ligg høvelspon på benken er nok dette litt ut på dagen etter at arbeidet er godt i gang. Å forlate høvelbenken slik frå dagen før var nok ikkje heilt bra om snikkaren arbeidde i ein verkstad med orden?

Snikkaren på biletet sit på framtanga på høvelbenken. Vi ser i enden på skruven i framtanga og det ser ut som det er ein treskruve. Lyset fell inn frå venstre kant så snikkaren har hatt godt lys til å sjå den flata han høvlar på. Det er langhøvelen som ligg på høvelbenken og mesteparten av spona ser ut til å vere frå kanthøvling. Truleg har han foghøvla emne til liming for å lage breiare plater. Elles ser vi vinkel og grindsag heng på ein spikar på veggen framom benken. Han har ein verktøyhald med nokre tappjarn eller skulpjarn og ein passar. Under denne heng borvinna og nokre fleire vinklar.

Arkivert under:1800-tal, Gamle bilete av snikkarverkstader
Categories: Hand Tools

A Simple Painting In Wood Etude

WPatrickEdwards - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 10:09am

Always Start With The Basics

When I decided to open up my marquetry workshop to students, I had to decide what kind of curriculum to follow, knowing that I would have a wide range of students with a wide range of abilities and experience.

Therefore, I followed the musical format which I learned during the decades I was involved with classical music.  At the age of 12, I saw a kid playing the violin on the Ed Sullivan show on TV.  I immediately told my parents that I wanted to learn the violin.  Fortunately, they were able to buy me a moderately good quality instrument and find someone to teach me.  I went every week to get a lesson and made a good effort to practice daily.  I was not always successful, and my teacher would always know when I had practiced or not.

There were fingering exercises, bowing exercises, scales in every key, and very simple practice etudes. It was all about technique.  My teacher was a very old man, and had learned himself from a Russian teacher.  He insisted that I learn the basics before I even thought about playing anything by some composer.  He was right.  I was soon able to join the Civic Youth orchestra, where I sat first chair, second violin section.  (I never had any aspirations to play first violin.  That takes a certain ego.)

In college, I naturally took music and had the good fortune to study with Bert Turetzky, a famous double bass player.  He listened to me play my violin and immediately said, "Forget it.  I need a viola player.  Can you learn to play the viola?"

I went back to my teacher, who was in his 90's and retired and asked him if he could help me.  He was generous enough to show me what I needed and I spent my college years playing the viola in the UCSD quartet.  Some of the most rewarding days of my life.

My point is that, if I had not been shown how to hold the instrument, how to tune the instrument and how to execute the most basic technical aspects of it, I would never have been able to perform Schubert's string quintet in C major successfully.

Thus, since I only teach two weeks of classes every quarter, it is essential that I teach the basics.  How to fit the chevalet to the worker.  How to hold the saw frame and set the tension.  How to make a packet and cut it. How to execute simple etudes over and over.

The first week is the Boulle method, where it doesn't matter much if you can follow the line.  Most students are able to learn fast enough and have enough control to stay on the line by the end of the week.  The second week is the Classic Method (Piece by Piece) where it is essential that you not only follow the line exactly, but are able to cut away exactly half the line consistently.  That takes good eye/hand coordination, and that takes much more practice to master.

There is an etude which is in between these two methods: Painting in Wood.  With this method, you do not have to follow the line exactly.  The pieces always fit, since you are basically using the Boulle method of cutting the layers of the packet in super position.  That means the elements of the design are cut at the same time as the cavities of the background, which is in the same packet.

With the Classic Method, the elements of the design are cut in a separate packet and the back ground is cut in a separate packet, so if you are not careful, they will not fit.  The French developed the Classic Method and were able to keep most of the secrets of this process in Paris.

At the end of the 17th century, the rest of Europe began to evolve the Boulle Method into the Painting in Wood method, as the desire to create more naturalistic marquetry designs became the fashion.  With Boulle, the packets were usually layers of ebony, pewter, brass or tortoise shell, and the overall design was either a positive or negative form of the design ("premiere-partye" or "contre-partye").

Boulle Marquetry Project for Art Institute of Chicago
When the fashion began to change, and the desire to include more types of woods as well as more naturalistic images of flowers and birds became popular, marquetry artists developed the Painting in Wood process.  Instead of solid sheets of material in the packet, they began to include smaller pieces of exotic wood veneers, strategically placed in ares of the design where they were needed.

I wrote an article explaining this process in detail in Woodwork, February 2008, where I show how I made one of my tall case clocks.

The success of this method depends on making sure the elements of the wood you need for the design are exactly in place inside the packet, and that you are able to include as many different species of woods as possible in the fewest number of layers.  Generally, using 1.5mm sawn veneers, I limit my packets to 8 layers of veneer, plus the 3mm back board and the 1.5mm front board.  When using 0.9 sliced veneers, it is possible to include as many as 12 layers of veneer.

I first make multiple copies of the design.  Using those copies, I begin to place my woods in each layer where they are needed.  Then I fill in the gaps with a scrap veneer so there are no voids inside the packet.  I am careful to keep the outside corners of the design for proper orientation.  I usually include at least two different species of woods for each flower, which gives me the option at the end of selecting the proper woods for the best effect.

Working from the back of the packet, I first start with a 3mm back board and a layer of grease paper.  The back layer of veneer is always the back ground, which in this case is ebony.  Note I have colored on the design those parts of the background which are isolated and would tend to get lost if I didn't pay attention while cutting.

Layer F (Background Veneer)

(Note there is no ebony veneer in this photo, since it was used in the project.)

Each of the following photos shows the design for that layer on the left and the layer of the packet on the right.  Since this example is one I use in class, I have covered the layer of veneer with clear packing tape, and you are looking at the back of the layer for clarity, since it is covered with veneer tape on the face which holds everything together.

The next layer is generally either a layer of green or brown for the branches or leaves:

Layer E
Here is the next layer in the packet:

And so on, each layer with its design:

Layer D

Layer C

Layer B

Layer A
Note that I have colored the design with yellow for the parts I need.  That allows me to quickly visualize the final result, making sure I have the desired woods in every part of the picture, before I assemble the packet and begin cutting.  As you can easily see, this process allows for efficient use of small pieces of veneer which otherwise would be discarded.  Plus you can place the grain direction the way you want for the best result.

I make a final drawing and use it when I cut out the packet.  This design shows me all the information I need to select the proper layer of wood from the plug of veneers, each time I cut them out.  The rest is discarded.  I keep only the woods I need for the picture.

Cutting Guide
There are several reasons I like Painting in Wood.  Since I am not very good at drawing, but I am very good at cutting, this process allows me to "improve" the design as I work.  As I said already, it also allows me to use very small scraps of my sawn veneers, which are expensive.  I also find it very stimulating to mentally create the final image and "see" the picture while looking at the layers of the packet.

One of my students, Paul Miller, seems to have also found this process interesting.  After he returned to his workshop and built his chevalet, he sent us a card with the photo of this etude on the cover:

Paul Miller's Card

I really appreciate it.  Soon he will be performing Schubert!
Categories: Hand Tools

A Simple Painting In Wood Etude

Antique Refinishers, Inc. - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 10:09am

A Simple Painting In Wood Etude
Always Start With The Basics

When I decided to open up my marquetry workshop to students, I had to decide what kind of curriculum to follow, knowing that I would have a wide range of students with a wide range of abilities and experience.
Therefore, I followed the musical format which I learned during the decades I was involved with classical music....
Categories: Hand Tools

Step 1, Build Coffins. Step 2…. Step 3, Profit!

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 9:44am


This weekend I built three coffins with the help of some friends and wrote a blog post about the experience over at my blog at Popular Woodworking Magazine. Check it out here.

Special thanks to John Hoffman, the other half of Lost Art Press, Dr. Tim Henrickson, Raney Nelson of Daed Toolworks, Megan Fitzpatrick of Popular Woodworking, Sean Thomas and Andrew Lunn.

These coffins and the details of their construction will be featured in the forthcoming “Furniture of Necessity” book.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Furniture of Necessity
Categories: Hand Tools

A Coffin-building Party

Chris Schwarz's Pop Wood Blog - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 9:36am

When I die, I want to leave this world in the same way I lived in it. As a woodworker who has spent his entire life building furniture for myself and others, I couldn’t imagine being placed into a box that someone else made. In 2005, I read this article in TheNew York Times about Chinese coffins that were made much like a dugout canoe (and were banned by the […]

The post A Coffin-building Party appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

The Card Catalogue – Part Four

The Unplugged Woodshop - Tom Fidgen - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 8:59am
  After two amazing months on the East Coast, we’re finally back in the city. For better or worse, the summer came and went, and now we’re gearing up for one of our busiest Fall & Winter seasons to date!   My short list looks...
Categories: Hand Tools

More About Inlay

McGlynn On Making - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 7:33am

I’m reading everything I can find about inlay these days, and thinking about doing a simple piece to get a feel for the process soon.

First, for inspiration, take a look at the detail on this inlaid Koi from a tabletop by Hudson River Inlay:


Spectacular inlaid Koi by Hudson River Inlay

I also found a great “instructibles” tutorial that covers the basic steps for inlaying a design cut from shell: http://www.instructables.com/id/Handcut-inlay/?ALLSTEPS

Guitar head inlaid by "Jimmi"

Guitar head inlaid by “Jimmi”

And I’ve started/finished watching these two Larry Robinson inlay videos.


Basic and Intermediate Inlay Techniques by Larry Robinson

The first video goes through the process of inlaying a butterfly cut from White Pearl, Gold Lip Pearl and Abalone shells from design through completion.  There were some great tips in the video.  These were produced originally as VHS tapes, and the video quality is not quite as nice as more recently produced “how-to” DVDs, but that isn’t really a problem.

Larry goes over the different kinds of inlay materials available, and I was really surprised at the size of the shells that the Pearl and Abalone comes from.  I’d always imagined small shells, like 3″ to 4″ across, but the Pearl shell was easily a foot wide.  I tried to sang some screenshots from the video, but didn’t get anything usable.

The design process involves tracing several times, refinance the layout with each step.  It’s an interesting approach, with the first tracing from a reference book the design looks a little crude, then lines are slightly uneven and the design is unbalanced.  After tracing from that copy onto a new design the effect is greatly improved.  I’ll have to try that.

The biggest challenge in my view is sawing out the parts.  He uses a fret saw with a tiny jewelers blade and saws out these impossibly tiny, delicate parts.  The guitar peg head below is an example, each of those vines, including the thin delicate ones leading up to the flower in the middle, were sawn out by hand and fit into a recess in the wood.

Inlay work by Larry Robinson in Pearl, Abalone, Gold

Inlay work by Larry Robinson in Pearl, Abalone, Gold

I haven’t watched the second DVD yet, but it is supposed to cover more advanced techniques, including engraving the inlaid material.

I’m not particularly interested in doing this sort of elaborate inlay, my goal is to be able to do more traditional furniture inlays as seen on Arts & Crafts furniture, and especially the bolection style used on Greene & Greene furniture.  But any little tidbits of information on technique I’m filing away.  One day soon I’m going to try this myself.

Detail of an inlaid desk done for the Pratt house

Detail of an inlaid desk done for the Pratt house



Categories: General Woodworking

LVL Desk in a Weekend

Woodworker's Edge - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 5:29am

Steve's deskIt’s a holiday weekend. Yeah. I have an extra day in the shop on Monday that I intend to fill building a quick desk with my younger brother. He’s looking for something a bit toward contemporary and I’ve sold him on using LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber) for the top with legs that are simple to make; he wants inexpensive and quick. The most time spent – at least I hope it takes longer than other parts – is time building a pencil drawer.

I took two hours to rip, square and assemble the pieces of LVL for the top one night after work. That includes time spent watching glue dry. The process is easy. Here are the steps in case you want to play along (or build something similar down the road).

2M4A2152I began with two LVL beams that were 1-3/4″ x 11-7/8″ x 10′-0″. After chopping the beams in half lengthwise, I set up at the table saw to rip each piece to 2-1/8″. Of course, one edge was ran over the jointer to give me a square edge to start. Using a 50-tooth combination blade, LVL cuts easy. The beams I purchased had a bluish painted surface, as you can see in the photo. That worried me little after making the jointer pass. Then after ripping the pieces and turning them on edge, you begin to see the final surface. To make up the 30″ in width needed to the desk, I ripped all four half beams, which produced 20 strips that were 1-3/4″ x 2-1/8″ x 60″+.

2M4A2153From the table saw, I returned to the jointer to true one of the two yet-painted edges to provide a solid glue surface. A single pass flattened all but two of the pieces. Those two pieces were areas where the lamination overlapped causing a bump in the face. I ran them a second time in order to achieve a flat face. You still see bluish paint in the left-hand photo because only one face has been flattened (all faces run over the jointer knives are downward facing, waiting for the planer.

2M4A2156A ride through the planer was so easy. All I needed was to flatten the second face for glue. The planer I used is setup with a spiral cutterhead. Even though there were no problems with the three-knife arrangement at the jointer, the planer surface was smoother. (This is why, when asked, I suggest that the planer have the spiral cutter, but it’s not that important on your jointer – the jointer is seldom the last surface of your work.) The first pass was great except for, you guessed it, the two pieces that needed the extra pass at the jointer. When those two were feed through the planer, the final surface was untouched in a couple places. A send pass through the planer was required, but only for those two pieces.

To my surprise, the most difficult process in assembling the two planks for the top was the glue-up stage. Spreading glue on the 19 pieces (yep, I had one strip left over after attaining the 30″ width) was a pain. 2M4A2159I decided to lay the strips out as if I were gluing panels for a case side. With the finished face up, I then rotated each piece to a glue face. With the pack tight together, I squeezed glue up and down the face leaving small lines covering the surface. I spread the glue using a thin scrap of wood. Scraping along the length was no good, but across the pieces worked like a charm. With one side gooey, I flipped the strips abd slathered up the second side. I was amazed at how sticky the pieces were as I tried to align the ends – I needed a mallet to move the individual pieces. Than goodness I assembled the 19 pieces in two separate groups. When finished, I added clamps and let the half-tops set. All in all, I used almost 3/4 of a quart of glue.

Out of the clamps in 45 minutes and all that was left was to clean the squeeze-out off and make a pass through the planer to level the two surfaces. When slid together – I still need to assemble the two halves – you get a good idea of how the top looks. My guess is it’s even better when a bit of finish is applied. Next week I’ll walk through the legs. Get it?

Build Something Great!



Categories: General Woodworking

Happiness is a sharp chisel.

The Slightly Confused Woodworker - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 4:47am

Yesterday afternoon I managed to get in a little more work on my plane while the cat was away. Before I started, something had been bothering me that I decided to look at, and that was the holes I drilled into the cheeks of the plane for the cross-pin dowel. On the previous planes I had made, I started by squaring up the cheek stock to the body stock used for the back half of the plane. I would then mark the spot for the dowel hole, and drill out both pieces simultaneously using a drill press. That plan was the very same plan I had in mind for this plane, but then I did something foolish. I drilled out the first hole, and during the middle of the process noticed that the second cheek had some tear out at the back. Rather than finishing the drill out and then cleaning up the board, I sawed off a bit of the end, and without compensating for the sawed off difference, drilled out the second dowel hole. The result left me dowel holes that were out of line by nearly 1/16 of an inch, which doesn’t sound like a whole lot until you attempt to push a half-inch oak dowel through it. Nevertheless, I managed to get the dowel through, which leaves me a slightly crooked cross-pin. How this will affect the adjusting/wedge, or the overall usefulness of the tool I’m not exactly sure yet, but, live and learn.

Rather than despair, I continued working on the plane. First thing I did was clamp the body down and plane down the sole to get it flat; ironically I used a smooth plane for this. It really only needed a few passes before it was finished. I then used sheets of sandpaper and my tablesaw bed, starting at 60 grit and working up to 150. The plane sole is now nice and flat, though I will still do some more sanding before I call it completely finished. I want to hold off on the final sanding until the wedge is fit; I will then finish it using 220 and 400 grits.

Trueing the sole

Trueing the sole

The marks tell you when it's flat

The marks tell you when it’s flat

After I was happy with the flatness of the sole, I decided to try and attempt some initial shaping of the plane. I don’t own a band saw, so I traced out a shape using some French curves and attempted to use a jigsaw to shape the plane. I quickly found that the jigsaw was not an option, so I turned to spokeshave, rasp, block plane, and chisels. I had only a basic outline in mind at first, so the shaping was really just a trial and error process. After roughly 30 minutes I managed to achieve a fairly decent shape/curve. I don’t want the plane to look overly machined, so I got the front shaped to a look that seems pleasing and left it at that. At that I called it a night.

Saturday, after work, and running some errands, I decided on a little late evening woodworking. For the back section of the plane I was going for a more pronounced curve, so I got out my 1 1/4″ chisel and started pounding out the shape. I progressed from the large chisel to smaller chisels as I needed. I also used the block plane for some of the initial shaping, and then finally the spokeshave to clean it all up. I was attempting to achieve a graceful front to back curve, as well as a more subtle side-to-side arc. In around 45 minutes I had the carving portion finished; I then spent around 15 minutes hand sanding. I like how the plane looks: graceful, yet still made by hand. More impressively, my lovely wife actually spent a few minutes with me while all of this was going on. She was quite impressed that I knew how to carve, and she liked the contrast of the light and dark woods on the plane itself. Today, I hope to finish the wedge and make the first test shavings.

Right side angle

Right side angle

Other side

Other side

Full length

Full length

Carving and shaping tools

Carving and shaping tools

I don’t necessarily know the reasons, but I like making planes. I need to make more, many more, before I can call myself good at it, but I am improving. I have a construction technique down, now I just have to perfect it. But planes are fun to build. The material is generally reasonably priced, and you only need basic hand and power tools to get it done. With a handful of sharp chisels, a spokeshave, a table saw, and a block plane most woodworkers can make a handplane. And, more importantly, if you are a handplane user, I can’t think of a better way of learning how to use a plane than to make one of your own.

Categories: General Woodworking

Dovetails from Norway.

David Barron Furniture - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 11:25pm

A good customer from Norway sent me these shots of his first go with the dovetail guide (1:6) and saw.
All these pictures came back within two weeks of the tools arriving which is great to see.

He's done a great job on this dovetail alignment board and this is a good first project to get used to using the guide.

That looks a nice sturdy bench as well as some good quality tools. Looks like he needs a tidy up though!

Here's an attractive hall table with asymmetric drawers which look good and shows some thought went into the design.

And some very nice sets of half blind dovetails for the drawers.

Categories: Hand Tools

Day 3 Stick Chair Build - Little Things

Toolerable - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 9:41pm
What I imagined we would be able to accomplish today was a little bit different than what we were actually able to do. I was thinking that it would be neat if I could get my legs shaped and driven home, along with a good start on the upper half of the chair. This would leave me tomorrow with a bunch of extra time for doing something unexpected like knocking out all the parts for a Roorkee chair.

Reality can be an annoying thing.

Shaping the legs isn't complicated, but care must be taken to get them to look the way you want. I think Jonas and I both underestimated how long it would take, even with every Danish cowboy trick we could think of.

Executing the final cuts on my seat blank.

I chose to use as much of the blank as there was there for this chair, resulting in a little bit of live edge remaining.

This Lee Valley spokeshave really worked well cleaning up the endgrain on this elm.  Alcohol really helped too - I mean rubbing alcohol on the endgrain, what did you think I meant?

Entertaining ourselves in the shop.  A little immaturity helps you stay young.

The Viking Hoarde.
Jonas' parents stopped by for the day.  Mr. Jensen has a hobby of collecting quality tools at auctions in Sweden.  He brought along a box of goodies for us to pick through, and I came out with my very own hoarde of essentials I didn't know I needed.
Jonas and his parents.

Yes, alcohol really does help with the endgrain.
Back to work.  I didn't even think about the fact that I wasn't done shaping the seat yet.  It wound up taking me until lunchtime to finish it.  This was another one of the little things that I didn't account for when thinking about today's plan.
Beveling the underside of the chair to reduce the profile and give the chair a more delicate look.  Here is a good view of the different colors in this chair blank.  The dark stuff on the near side is extremely hard and of a completely different feel than the rest of the wood, which is challenging enough.  I roughed this profile with a drawknife using slicing cuts, and crept up to my line with my jack plane.

Jonas showed me how to make tapers on the jointer using Glen Huey's technique.  Trust me, I was very mindful of where my body parts were while using this beautiful but scary old machine.

Olav seems to be able to do twice as much work in half the time as me.

Jonas chose to turn his legs round on his lathe.  I think they turned out nice!

I used my Moxon vice to hold my legs for octagonalizing.

There is more than one way to taper a cat.

After shaping the legs, I roughed out the tapered tenon on Jonas' lathe.  He has a gizmo on his that will copy any shape, including the six degree taper we are using for the tenon.

The bottom two are started with the template cutting thingie.  After that, I flipped them around in the lathe so I could get closer to a finished shape.  The top one was finished up with a six degree rounder.

Once you commit to boring the holes, you should follow through with confidence!  Notice I have John Brown's book and Drew Langsner's full size drawing close at hand.  I did not stage those in the photo on purpose, I was constantly referring to both.

After boring a hole, I use a reamer to make the tapered mortice.  The lines and layout gauges in this photo helped me to dial in to the exact perfect angles for the legs.

Driving the legs home.

It's starting to look like something to sit on.

Jonas and I both are making some progress.

It was interesting keeping my eye on what Jonas was doing today.  We both chose very different ways to do our legs.  One could learn a lot from him.

Even though we didn't get done with as much as we thought we would, we actually got a lot done.  I would rather take my time to do the job right than rush through the project not achieving the level of quality that I expect.
Categories: Hand Tools

Face vises. Good or Garbage?

Fair Woodworking - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 6:55pm
People, well woodworkers at least, seem to get defensive if you question the value of their preferred bench vise. So it can be difficult to get an objective opinion about them. I’m sure I am no different but I’m going to share about mine a little anyway. About a month ago I was listening to […]
Categories: Hand Tools

Jewel Cabinet Backstory Revealed

WPatrickEdwards - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 4:50pm

A Little Pride Showing
When I started this blog, I selected one of my favorite pieces to use as the Banner.  The Jewel Cabinet I made nearly 10 years ago has an interesting story and I often use it during my lectures on Painting in Wood to illustrate my favorite method for decorating surfaces.

This Jewel Cabinet was part of the first SAPFM member's exposition at the Telfair Museum in Savannah, Georgia, and I distinctly remember it as being the only piece of European furniture in that show.  Subsequently, it was also on exhibit here in San Diego, at the Mingei Folk Art Museum, as part of the "Forms in Wood and Fibre" exhibition.  I must say it also stood out from the rest of the show, as being from another planet.

As it is an iconic part of this blog, I thought it was time I should explain what led me to make such a thing.  Also, since Paul Miller just wrote me and asked if he could use my piece as an inspiration for him to make something similar, I want to post some more details for him to use.  I have no problem with others copying my work.  I have done the same thing all my career.  The difference is that the craftsmen I choose to copy have all been dead for a couple centuries.

In any event, I first saw this cabinet in London, at one of the most prestigious antique dealers in that city.  I will not name the company, for reasons which will become obvious in this post.  As I walked through their showrooms, I was impressed with the quality of the objects and the perfect condition they appeared to be in.  In one room I was stopped in my tracks by a wonderful marquetry cabinet with ivory feet and pulls.  I asked the salesman for more information, as I "might have a buyer" and he obliged by handing me three glossy 8 x 10 photographs and the price sheet.

Here is the description on the price sheet:  (Dealer name covered by blue tape)

Name Deleted to Protect the Dealer

There are several points raised by this sheet to consider.  First of all, it is attributed to "France, circa 1690."  Secondly, it is called a "Cartonnier."  Third, it is very strongly attributed to Boulle, without exactly saying so.  (The word is "comparable.")  Forth, it is 116cm wide (this fact will soon be recognized as very significant.)  And, finally, it is 18,500 British pounds.

As soon as I was able to return to my library and do basic research, I found this document:

The Evidence Exhibit A
The type is hard to read, but it says: "Flemish..Antwerp, in the manner of Van Soest..." This page is from an auction sale around the same time as I saw the cabinet in London, and the auction estimate was 7-10,000 British pounds.  I do not know how much it sold for.  I do note that the top section is"a removable superstructure of inverted breakfront form, with a central cubgoard door inlaid with a vase of flowers, flanked by eight drawers..."  More importantly, the width of the cabinet is 116cm.

I doesn't take a lot of conjecture to imagine a person buying this desk, throwing away the base section (since it needs a lot of work), adding ivory feet and pulls to the upper section and calling it French.  The motive is simple: you double your money.

My first suspicion that something was not right, was the term the dealer provided for the object: "Cartonnier."  I know from my reading and visiting museums that a cartonnier in French furniture is a different shaped cabinet which stood at the end of the bureau plat.  In simple terms, it was a filing cabinet or the paper work.  Generally quite tall and shaped to match the Louis XV forms popular at the mid century.  The dilemma faced by the dealer was what to call it, since it no longer was associated with the Flemish desk that used to support it.

In any event, here are the photos supplied by the dealer and what I did with them:

"Comparable to Outstanding Boulle Marquetry"
This first photo is of the central door and two of the small drawers.  The marquetry is very crudely executed.  My process is to trace the designs, rather quickly on tracing paper, so I can begin to memorize the details.  This is the result:

Rough Drawing of Original
At this point, I was convinced that I would not use any of the marquetry designs on the piece.  I could do much better by adapting some of the traditional French designs that are included in all of Pierre Ramond's books.  So I kept the same dimensions and form and redrew the designs completely as follows:

Final Drawing of Marquetry
You might notice that I am not afraid of cutting very little pieces.  The eye of the bird, for example, is less than 1mm in diameter.  I prefer the way the flowers stand in the vase and the perspective of the table top supporting the vase gives depth to the image.  I like to use olive oyster sawn veneers for the vase, as it lends a look of marble to the object.

I cut out the solid woods for the carcase, using quarter sawn white oak and beech.  I rough out my stock and set it aside, with stickers, for a season (at least one year) to adjust to my climate.  I cut out more pieces than I need, so I can pick the best ones when it comes time to build the piece.  While the wood is set aside, I turn my attention to cutting out the marquetry panels, using the Painting in Wood process.  I remember there are 18 panels plus the running bands on the face.  Several of the panels are identical in design but inverted in polarity so as to appear different.

For example, the two large panels on the top ends are the same design, but mounted left and right, with the individual colors of the elements selected as opposite colors.  The 8 drawers are made from only two drawings.  One has an orchid in the corner and the other has a rose.  By flipping the images left and right and changing the woods, it appears that there are 8 different designs.  There are 32 different wood species and all of them are natural colors, except the blue and green woods which are tinted using traditional methods.  Of course all the veneers are sawn material I purchased in Paris from Patrick George and are 1.5mm thick.

Here is the top of my cabinet:

Top of Cabinet
I needed ivory for turning the feet and pulls, so I contacted my friend, David Warther.  He kindly sent me the proper pieces of ivory along with a legal "Affidavit of Origin" documenting where he purchased it:

Legal Ivory
I included this paper with the cabinet when I sold it.  You may check recent posts on this blog to see how current legislation is affecting the trade in ivory, both legal and antique.

I might mention that I like to use full blind dovetails for my cabinets and boxes which are veneered.  This way the dovetail pins do not telegraph through the surface over time.  I did the same for this cabinet.  Everything was hand surfaced and toothed so I could press the veneer in place.  After the panels were laid down, the cabinet was glued together and the ebony and boxwood banding applied.

Here is the front of the original cabinet:

Made by Hand in Antwerp late 17th Century
Here is my cabinet:

Made by Hand in Southern California 21st Century
Here is the back of the original piece:

Back of Cartonnier
Here is the back of my cabinet:

Credit for Design to Louis XIV Coffer 
When I applied the shellac polish, I found myself being detached from the object in a very strange way.  As I stepped out of the job of making the cabinet and transitioned into the job of polisher, I began to wonder "who made this?"  It sounds strange, but when I am in the middle of a project, I can think of nothing else.  But when it is done, I forget all about it and move on to something else.  So, as I polished the ebony and marquetry surface, all I could think of was how amazing this object was, and how lucky I was to be able to work on it.

All told, I spend 800 hours building this cabinet and it sold the day it was finished to the first person who saw it.  Life is good.
Categories: Hand Tools


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by Dr. Radut